The international spread of a novel coronavirus resulted in the World Health Organisation declaring a global pandemic on 11 March 2020; the COVID-19 pandemic. Significant changes to the way we all live have followed, with football ceasing across the UK in March 2020. AFC Unity played our last game on the 8th of March – International Women’s Day – ending our season on a run of six league games undefeated and proud of our achievements.
During lockdown we remained a team, enjoying a virtual awards night, continuing our partnership with S2 Foodbank and taking part in Small Park Big Run. While physically distanced we are socially together.
Over the last few days and weeks, we have engaged players in discussions about what returning to football looks like for AFC Unity. There were understandably a range of thoughts and feelings, which reflects the different positions we all find ourselves in during this global pandemic. We heard concerns about returning to contact football and playing competitive league football. These included:
-the impact of the pandemic on personal health, including those with chronic conditions
-the impact on employment or income if players were required to self-isolate following contact while playing football
-increased risk to themselves or family members due to having contact with others who may unknowingly be infected with the virus
-the conflicting nature of having to wear a mask in a shop or being unable to be in close proximity to family, but playing football in contact with relative strangers
For these reasons AFC Unity will not currently be entering to play competitive football in league this year. As a club we are gutted, despite feeling this is the right thing to do. After all, we all love playing football. However, for us there is a bigger picture: a virus which has killed tens of thousands of people in the UK alone and the huge effects that it is having on the lives of us all in different ways. We will continue to play football, but this starts for us in a socially distanced way which can be inclusive of all who want to take part.
Hope Over Fear